Navy seeks de-watering Meghalaya mine

Navy divers getting inside the flooded Meghalaya mine on Monday. photo by Anuwar Ali Hazarika at Ksan, Meghalaya.

The navy divers on Monday sought de-watering the flooded Meghalaya mine in order to prevent Decompression Sickness (DCS).

This comes after their Under Water Remote Operated Vehicle (UWROV) detected only a wooden structure and some coal inside the shaft.

A navy team is carrying out search in the 350-feet deep mine in East Jaintia Hills district since Sunday, where 15 coal miners got trapped on December 13 after water gushed in from a nearby abandoned mine.

The site is situated at Ksan, about 150-km east of Meghalaya's capital Shillong.

“The navy divers had entered the shaft around 10 am on Monday and carried out survey of its bottom for about three hours. The team requested the district administration to assist in de-watering so that water level comes down to 30-feet or within safe diving limit. Then they will again commence diving. These safety measures are being undertaken to rule out decompression sickness (DCS),” said a statement issued by the East Jaintia Hills district administration.

There is about 70-feet deep water in the mine, which got flooded after the miners probably cut its wall.

The ‘rat holes’ are dug in the base of the shafts to extract coal. Many such shafts has remained abandoned since 2014 when the National Green Tribunal (NGT) had banned coal mining in Meghalaya.

The NGT had cited adverse impact on the environment and lack of safety measures.

“Visibility is very poor. The navy team said that once the level of the water comes down, the search will be feasible,” said the statement adding that the site was cleared for Odisha fire service personnel for pumping out water from the main shaft and those nearby.

Odisha team is also camping at the site with powerful water pumps. The pumping will begin on Tuesday, a source said.

Indian navy on Friday rushed a 15-member diving team from Vishakhapatnam-based Eastern Naval Command after the Opposition parties including the Congress slammed the Centre and Prime Minister Narendra Modi for neglecting the search operation.

A 70-member team of NDRF, personnel of Meghalaya SDRF, Coal India Limited, Kirloskar Brothers, among others are also part of the search operation.

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Navy seeks de-watering Meghalaya mine

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